As the country swelters in the heat we look at the efforts made by the Strength and Conditioning team at the Ospreys to ensure the players are in peak condition as pre-season continues.
As temperatures soar, the challenge for the S&C department is to ensure the wellbeing of the squad as they put them through a regime designed to prepare for the demands of the game across a long season.
Always a time when players are tested to the limits of their physical endurance, putting in place the building blocks for the forthcoming campaign, the opening weeks of this pre-season have seen the squad working under blazing sunshine with the mercury rising to almost unprecedented levels.
The impact of heat exposure and training in the sunshine are well documented, including a more rapid onset of fatigue, higher energy consumption and a slightly decreased heart function, along with higher rates of body fluid loss through sweat – all of which can impact directly on both performance and recovery, with obvious implications.
S&C Coach, Josh Robinson, highlighted the work done collectively behind the scenes at Llandarcy Academy of Sport to ensure the players are in peak condition before, during and after a session as the sun continues to beat down.
“The initial responses to training in heat are as you described, and are usually resolved following a period of acclimation” he said.
“With the right care and strategies, players will generally tend to acclimate to heat after 4-7 days of 60+ minutes per day exposure to sub maximal and high intensity training and maintaining adequate body fluids.
“During these times it’s about ensuring that not only are we putting them through their paces to get the work done that is needed, we are giving them what they need to stay hydrated, stay cool and stay safe. Doing the right things allows individuals to better maintain hydration status during exercise-heat stress and minimise body water losses, decreasing resting heart rate, and core and skin temperatures, while increasing exercise capacity.”
By following some simple advice and integrating the correct strategies into their day-to-day routine, the players are able to adapt to the unusual conditions and, pretty soon, get their performance levels where they should be. Robinson explained:
“It’s very much a team effort, starting with the players and S&C staff, but relying on coaches, the medical team and support staff, to ensure everyone has the tools to do this properly.
“Basic strategies include having plenty of drinks on hand to rehydrate using a combination of water and PAS isotonic, as well as having sun cream on hand to ensure skin is protected from UVA and UVB rays.
“We’ll monitor body mass pre and post session to account for fluid loss, replacing 1litre of water per 1kg of body mass, and will increase players salt consumption. Other things we look at as routine in this weather is the supply of cold, wet towels during sessions and cold water immersion post-session to cool skin and core body temperature.
“Players also have a responsibility to look after themselves away from the environment, for example, alcohol has a dehydrative effect on the body and can cause quicker onset of body fluid loss so it makes sense more then ever for them to limit alcohol consumption at this time.”